After weeks and weeks of lowered expectations, DC's Justice League finally arrived in theaters and...bombed harder than anyone could have possibly imagined, tallying $94 million for its opening weekend. $94 million normally isn't anything to scoff at, but given the expectations of this being the zenith of the DC Universe so far and what everything had been building to (particularly with the inevitable Avengers comparisons), $94 million is an impossible-to-comprehend disaster. Budgeted at $300 million (production-only) and with an estimated $150 million in promotion and advertising, there's a good chance Justice League will go down as one of the biggest superhero failures of all-time.

1. It made less than ANY other film in the DCEU thus far (yes, even Man of Steel)


Man of Steel officially kicked off the DC film universe in 2013 with a $116.6 million opening weekend. That was followed a few years later by Batman v. Superman's relatively stellar $166 million weekend debut (I say "relatively" because it had MASSIVE drop-offs on Saturday and Sunday compared to other superhero films) and Suicide Squad's $133.7 million opening. The lowest other opening for a DC film was this year's Wonder Woman, which opened at $103.3 million - but wound up being the only true out-and-out success of the DCU, generating hugely positive reviews and going on to tallying the highest domestic box office of any DC film by a longshot ($412 million).

Justice League opened to $94 million - $9 million less than Wonder Woman, and with critical reviews in the dumps (sitting at a barely-better-than-BvS 40% on RottenTomatoes) and lackluster audience reviews (it got a B+ from CinemaScore, which is not very good), it seems very unlikely it'll have the long theatrical run that Wonder Woman enjoyed.

So yes - DC put all of their major heroes together for the first time on-screen, and audiences cared about it less than a Superman solo film.

2. It made less than Captain America: The Winter Solider and Guardians of the Galaxy


Captain America: The Winter Soldier and GOTG can best be described as "superhero movies that opened very well, all things considered." By that I mean both met with major uphill climbs - The Winter Soldier was complicated from a sequel perspective, taking place in an entirely different CENTURY than the preceding film and featuring an entirely new supporting cast, along with a completely different tone: the pulp-y serial tone of Captain America: The First Avenger was replaced with a sleeker political thriller tone and an entirely different look. And as for Guardians of the Galaxy...well, it had a great marketing campaign, but it was still convincing audiences to check out a film adaptation based on a D-tier Marvel property that included a talking raccoon and a tree that could only say its own name.

But Marvel knows how to sell its films, even ones that seem like they require a little extra finessing, and was able to launch TWS to $95 million and GOTG to $94.3 million. Justice League made (slightly) less than both films, despite...being JUSTICE LEAGUE.

3. It made less money than The Avengers's 2nd weekend


Again, it's impossible to NOT compare Justice League to Marvel's The Avengers - both were each universe's landmark team-up film that were years in the making and were meant to generate massive levels of excitement. Of course, there were a few differences: Marvel wisely gave each main member of the team their own solo movie to guarantee audience's would be invested in each individual character and pumped to see them all work together...and, possibly even more importantly, Marvel did it first. In 2017, the idea of a "superhero team-up" film is fairly commonplace, after two Avengers films, Captain America: Civil War (which is effectively another Avengers film), and even DC's own Batman v. Superman, which featured the first on-screen team-up of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.

But the shadow of The Avengers is cast even further than anyone could have guessed - it grossed $207.4 million in its opening weekend (the highest domestic opening weekend in superhero film history), which OBVIOUSLY Justice League isn't even close to. But what's TRULY shocking is that The Avengers' SECOND weekend at the box office was STILL higher than Justice League's: it made $103 million in week 2, after a 50% drop in attendance.

4. It made less money than Iron Man 1....BEFORE INFLATION


In 2008, Iron Man launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe...even if the individuals involved really had no idea how big this all would eventually get. It starred Robert Downey Jr. (more or less an unknown at the time, having lost several years in the limelight due to jail time and drug addiction), directed by Jon Favreau (who was coming off of a major flop in Zathura), and focused on one of Marvel's less popular leading heroes, Iron Man - a character so unknown to the general public that Marvel had to create explanatory videos to inform audiences that Iron Man wasn't a robot.

In other words, Iron Man 1 had the BIGGEST uphill battle of perhaps any modern superhero movie - it had nothing to fall back on but its own charm and quality. And it had no IMAX theaters or 3D screenings to beef up its box office returns...and this was in 2008 dollars, with no adjustment for inflation. And even with all of these caveats, its opening weekend totaled $98.6 million...nearly $5 million more than what Justice League was able to generate.



Between a massive initial budget, largescale reshoots (involving de-mustache-ing Henry Cavill with some...questionable CGI), and crazy promotional costs, Justice League stands as the most expensive superhero film ever produced (and nearly the most expensive film ever produced period, if not for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, which bafflingly cost nearly $400 million to make). Despite this, it barely opened bigger than Thor: The Dark World - and within the same month, was entirely trounced by Thor's third outing, Ragnarok (which opened to an incredibly healthy $122 million).

What's to blame for this? Subpar marketing efforts? Confused final product, splitting the difference between the visions of two different directors? WB executive meddling in the final product? Batman v. Superman poisoning the brand with audiences? Probably a combined effort of all of those factors and more - and the net result is just an unfathomable underperformance at the box office, which could (and should) lead to a complete retooling of DC Films as we know them.

Crazy to think that Snyder was saying THIS about Thor back in 2011:

"[Superman] is the freaking [...] biggest superhero on the planet. He's the father of every superhero. [Deborah and I] were just talking about this - I'm like, really? Thor? Thor has a movie? [Laughter.] Really? I mean, come on. And there's no Superman movie? This is, like, the world's out of balance. It's like, we've lost our minds here, people, come on."

Things have certainly changed.


via wombat_h

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